Stock assessments periodically conducted; fishermen and other stakeholders involved in data collection and development and implementation of management plans; stocks are recovering based on current management plans.
Stock in the SNE region still in poor condition; there is a large number of recreational fishermen not monitored and participating in development and implementation of management plans; continued potential for affecting endangered species such as right whales, etc.
Last updated on 28 June 2016
Improvement Recommendations to Catchers & Regulators
1. Start a fishery improvement project to address sustainability issues in this fishery. For advice on starting a FIP, see SFP’s Seafood Industry Guide to FIPs at http://www.sustainablefish.org/publications/2014/04/30/the-seafood-industry-guide-to-fips.
2. Communicate to fishery managers that there are sustainability issues in this fishery that may be affecting the sale of products, and request that they comprehensively evaluate and address such issues.
Recommendations to Retailers & Supply Chain
1. Encourage your supply chain to start a fishery improvement project. For advice on starting a FIP see SFP’s Seafood Industry Guide to FIPs at http://www.sustainablefish.org/publications/2014/04/30/the-seafood-industry-guide-to-fips.
2. Work with other suppliers and buyers on a pre-competitive basis to start a supplier roundtable to review improvement needs in this and other similar fisheries, catalyze fishery improvement projects, and monitor progress in improvement efforts.
Stock assessments have been done for 1996, 2000 and 2006 by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) and for 1993 by the Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC). The primary models used to assess American lobster stocks since 1992 are length-based virtual population analysis, the Collie-Sissenwine (a.k.a. modified DeLury) model, and the life history (a.k.a. egg production per recruit or EPR) model. Length-based VPA and the Collie-Sissenwine Model (CSM) were used to estimate abundance and fishing mortality rates in the stock using landings and bottom trawl survey data. Life history model (egg-per-recruit model or EPR) is used to estimate egg production per recruit and other per-recruit reference points for male and female lobster in each stock assessment region. Mortality and abundance of male and female lobster in individual areas are then estimated.
The SAC (Stock Assessment Committee) recommends that the ASMFC lobster board redefine management area boundaries so that they match, or completely fall within, stock unit boundaries. Moreover, it is said that ‘it is not possible to provide robust management advice for management areas that span multiple stock areas due to differences in stock trends, biological parameters, and management measures in adjacent areas.’
There is no advised TAC / Quota provided by the stock assessment.
The F10%reference point has been used consistently in lobster stock assessments to determine if overfishing is occurring.
Biological reference points for SNE American lobster stock unit
Fishing mortality threshold = 0.82
Fishing mortality target = 0.74
Abundance threshold (millions of lobster) = 22.31
Abundance target (millions of lobster) = 23.90
The SNE stock is considered to be in poor condition based on the recommended Biological Reference Points (BRPs). The stock is below the abundance threshold and at or near the fishing mortality threshold. In terms of the recommended reference points, the SNE American lobster stock is depleted and at the overfishing threshold
Landings increased sharply from the early 1980s to the late 1990s, reaching a time series high of 10,054 mt in 1997. Landings remained near the time series high until 1999, when the fishery experienced dramatic declines in landings.
Abundance varied between 16 and 28 million lobsters between 1982 and 1995, before increasing to a series high 45 million in 1997. Abundance sharply declined to 14 Million lobsters in 2004. Abundance in 2003 was estimated to be around 12.3 million. The current status, a three year average, is estimated as 14.0 million, below both the threshold and target reference points. Based on these criteria, overfishing is occurring in the Southern New England stock, and the stock is depleted.
There is no set TAC. The fishery is managed with permit restrictions, traps limits (number of vessel), sex restrictions (male only), closed areas, gear restrictions and minimum size limits (ASMFC, 1997). Given depleting stocks in the SNE, more stringent management plans are in place.
The fishery management plan seeks to decrease fishing mortality on the American lobster resource in the SNE stock to less than the fishing mortality reference point and restore abundance to greater than the abundance target reference point. To achieve this, some measures undertaken: minimum gauge size, maximum gauge size, vent size, v-notch definition and trap reduction.
There is a recovery plan for reducing fishing mortality to the target level and rebuilding stock abundance to the target level. This recovery plan seeks to decrease fishing mortality to less than the fishing mortality reference point immediately and restore abundance in the American lobster resource in the SNE stock to greater than the abundance target reference point before the end of 2022.
In general fishermen in SNE cooperate and comply with management authorities in the management of resources.
The U.S. mid-Atlantic lobster trap/pot fishery is currently classified as a Category I fishery (under the MMPA) that has a historical incidental bycatch of four large whales -- the North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis), the Western North Atlantic stock of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae), the Western Atlantic stock of fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus) and Canadian East Coast stock of minke whales (Balaenoptera acutorostrata).
Only pots and traps are allowed to land lobster for commercial purposes, and they are ranked “Very Low” for bycatch of sharks, seabirds, and turtles, “Low” for bycatch of finfish, “Medium” for interactions with marine mammals (addressed below), and “High” only for bycatch of shellfish and crabs .
A study which occurred in the eastern North Atlantic, found no lasting effects of pots on the abundance of epifauna such as sea pens, sea fans, and sponges, even on rocky substrates. Mobile gear impact research has been conducted on sand and mud substrates. There are indications that lobster pots may have positive effects on some aspects of habitat. For example, pots may temporarily act as reef habitat for fish. Similarly, they may provide temporary shelter, or even protect large areas of the seafloor by making them inaccessible to mobile gear (i.e., trawls and dredges).
There are some closed areas in the SNE lobster fishery.